Good glycemic control isn't easy. Managing diabetes—a chronic disease—requires diligently planning appropriate meals, consistently monitoring blood sugar levels, and adopting an overall healthy lifestyle. If you find yourself becoming complacent or discouraged, and convincing yourself that you don't really need to check your blood glucose levels all the time, you're certainly not alone.

It's easy to understand how your motivation can wane. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says blood glucose results often trigger strong feelings and can leave patients feeling upset, confused, frustrated, angry, or down, or cause them to use the numbers to harshly judge themselves.

Getting motivated to check your blood sugar—and staying that way—may be easier than you think. In part, it requires developing new habits. Behavioral experts say it takes about a month of doing (or not doing) a desired behavior or activity to develop a habit. Once you establish the desired behavior, it becomes automatic and you don't have to think about it, like brushing your teeth at night or making your bed in the morning.

Keep Focused on the Benefits

Tying together a cue (meal time) with a routine (checking your blood sugar) and a reward (time on social media, for example) is the best way to successfully form a habit. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why we Do What We Do in Life and Business, says countless studies show that a cue and a reward on their own aren't enough for a new habit to last. It's only when your brain starts expecting the reward that it will become automatic. The cue must trigger the routine and a craving for the reward. Duhigg says the final ingredient in creating a new habit is belief; you must believe the new habit is possible.

Here are a few other tips for finding motivation to check your blood sugar.

  • Connect your choices to long-term risk. In other words, focus on the consequences if you don't check your blood glucose.
  • Be creative. For example, set a goal to top last week's healthy eating, or try a new physical activity or recipe.
  • Use an online goal-setting tool, like Sanofi Diabetes' "Get S.M.A.R.T. About Goals."

Remember: your blood sugar level helps you monitor your diabetes care plan; it's not a judgment of you. Diabetes physician Amber Taylor, MD, says blood sugar level is just a number; there is no "bad" or "good;" it's just data. If you're still struggling with motivation, do one small thing to get you started. It will make you feel more in control.

Amber Taylor, MD, reviewed this article.




Amber Taylor, MD,

"Checking Your Blood Glucose," Web. Updated 10 December 2013. Accessed 9 January 2014.

"Find My Motivation," Web. Accessed January 9, 2014.

"Get S.M.A.R.T. About Goals," Web. Accessed January 9, 2014.

"Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills Analysis Advances Understanding of Barriers to Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose," PRNewswire, June 26, 2010. Accessed 9 January 2014.

Jocelyn K. Glei, "Hacking Habits: How To Make New Behaviors Last For Good," Web. Accessed 9 January 2014.